Sunday, December 4, 2011

More on Observation Day

Let’s say you’re going to be observed tomorrow morning.

If you go back and look quickly at my early posts on first-day activities and on establishing rapport with your students, and you realize that you weren’t able to do any of that with this year’s bunch and, actually, you never got to know each other and they don’t like you very much, well, you’re probably screwed.

If you overstepped your bounds earlier this semester or played a power card when you really didn’t need to, well, you’re probably screwed again. When you “win” against a teenager, especially in a battle you should’ve let slide in the first place, said teenager immediately begins to plan a re-match, a retaliatory strike. Nothing like seeing you in the vulnerable position of being observed by someone who can play a power card on you to bring out his or her Adolescent Avenger.

Okay, I’m overstating a bit. Most of your kids are probably as forgiving as your pets. Only a few will hold on to a grudge like sweet death. But, hey, don’t tempt them.

Here’s the upside: If your students know you care about them, are pulling for them, are doing your best to be a good, helpful, fair teacher, they’ll team up to make your observation day a success.
If you have advanced notice – and I think you will as that’s part of the new MPMP (Marzano Plan for Merit Pay) – tell them about it and tell them what you need to happen. Tell them to pay no attention to the new grownup in the room. Tell them to keep their focus on you and to follow your cues.

Maybe they should know about the relevant Marzano indicators, and you could even do a little rehearsal: “When I allude to Lady GaGa’s 14-minute video, I’m demonstrating ‘Withitness,’ so act interested.” That way it will be sort of like teaching to the test, something all of us should be pretty much accustomed to by now. And it’ll seem kind of fake and staged. But didn’t you really want to be an actor in the first place?

I admit that back when I was a very young freshman-comp teacher at FloridaState, I’d tell my students what my observer wanted. I knew, for example, that one of these guys thought it was critical to have students from different areas in the room to participate, i.e., he didn’t want only people in the first two rows to talk.

Incidentally, just so you know, it makes absolutely no difference what part of the room student contributions emit from. But back to my story.

So on observation day, introspective students would trade desks with some extroverts so we’d have good, spread-out coverage. It always pleased me to see this shortly after I had thrown up in the men’s room just down the hall.

Be sure to put your goals for the day on the board, and that should put you over the top. More on all of this later. If you have questions, please find a way to get them to me.

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